A co-worker sent me an email synopsis of a ABC News --20/20 investigation. If anyone can validate--or disprove info--please do! Otherwise, I thought this info could be helpful to this community.
Tires have a cryptic code on the sidewall. If the tire was manf'd in 2000 or newer, the sidewall should have a Alpha-Numeric series beginning w/ "DOT", and followed by (3) groups of (4) letters/numbers--or (12) digits.
The first group of (4) = first (2) letters/numbers are DOT plant code + next (2) letters/numbers are DOT tire size code.
The second group of (4) = manfr's tire model/brand designation
The third group of (4) = first (2) numbers identify the week of year the was made--this should be 01 thru 52 + next (2) identify year--so this should be 00 thru 12 (for now). EG, if last (4) digits are 1008, like my tires, it means tires made made in the TENTH WEEK of YEAR 08, which is 2008.
Now, if tires were made in the 90s, the third group of (4) digits will only have (3) digits. The first (2) digits indicate week of year as above, and the third digit indicates the year in the 1990s it was made.
I say, safety first, and do not pay for old rubber--so check the sidewall before you make the purchase.